To the Editor:
I hope that whichever way the vote ends up on Article 4, the community will continue to evolve policy to increase affordable housing but not on the basis of the emotion from a few well-publicized cases. The housing issue is complicated and little relevant data is available currently about its real causes and what might solve it. The current discussions and lack of actual data seem likely to delay a solution to a worsening problem.
Talking about nonresident homes as if they are only “vacation rentals” is misleading. I doubt data would show many that are investors or speculators. The vast majority of these are family homes used for many years, and frequently many generations. It is not about making money but about keeping a much-loved family home by renting enough weeks to cover expenses, including taxes that have risen substantially over the last 20 years. These are not part of affordable housing and in many cases are nonwinterized seasonal homes. An unintended consequence of regulation could be that only wealthy families can keep their summer homes and that any families whose next generation cannot afford them must sell.
It seems like a third category should be proposed for nonresident rentals that are used by the owners for a certain percentage of the time and/or an exemption for properties owned by the same family for more than 20 years or that are not winterized. It makes sense to regulate “vacation rental only” properties to discourage conversions but not the second homes used and loved by families and only rented a portion of the time.